Rugs of the Kolyai Tribe

The Kolyai are a Kurdish tribal rug-producing peoples of western and west northern Iran. They are neighbors of other Kurdish rug weavers, including the Bijar and the Kakaberu. The Kolyai rug-producing villages lie around the rug-trading center of Sonqur, between Hamadan and Kermanshah.

Kolyai rugs, like other Kurdish rugs, use a cotton warp and weft, are of medium fine construction and are typically single-wefted, but not exclusively. The knots on the back of the rug often produce a very “knobbly” effect. The pile is of medium length and very dense. The price is usually moderate, and the rugs are hard-wearing and popular. Designs, like many other Kurdish rugs, are bold and bright, and although often made with cheap dyes, are mostly well-colored, sometimes with vegetable dyes. The green shades are often very good. They invariably come in one basic size, the short kelleyi (7’9” to 9’3” long), with sparse decoration and “dismembered subsidiary motifs” (PRJ Ford, Oriental Carpet Design, 1993).

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This Kolyai is double-wefted and has a very common design referred to as Berry & Cream design because of the pattern and color in the field.

Kolyai rugs contain the typical three-medallion design, with many village-based variations. Kolyais are nearly always 8’3” x 4’3”in size. There has been an increase in size-variations in recent years. Some Kolyai use the Chenar-like design (Chenar is a Kolyai village), utilizing a series of connected diamond shapes. Kurdish rug-weavers are known for their boldness of design, especially the Kolyai and Kakaberu. They often use Boteh borders. Many have a bold, angular design. Colors are bright and light. A rusty shade of red is never found in Kolyai rugs.

The Mina Khani design, a Kurdish reinvention of the west central Persian design of the 18th century, is a lattice-work design which is a very popular design,usually dark green or blue. The Mina Khani design contains panels, which are honey or cream colored, and hold small red flowers.

The most famous Kurdish design is that of “Takht e Jamshid”, the 4th ruler of the world in the Persian legend of Creation, as told in the Shahnameh, the Ferdowsi classic Book of Kings. Takht e Jamshid (Jamshid’s throne), was the reputed cultural patron of arts and crafts. The central medallion in this design is always red, sometimes “flaming” red, and the ends of the rug always dark blue or black. The colors are full of abrashes (variation/changes in the main colors).

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